Easy Ways to Save Money On Heating and Air Conditioning

When it comes to heating and air conditioning, there are several things you can do to start saving money on your monthly bills. Think about how you currently use these in your home and how you can make changes to help keep their usage more cost-efficient.

 

Work to Block Outside Heat

 

During the summer, you want to enjoy your air conditioning, but you do not want to keep it up too high since this will cost you more money. Make sure to put some blinds and curtains on your windows and keep them closed on the hottest days. This prevents the sun from working against your air conditioner to cause your home to start warming up.

 

Allow the Sun to Heat Your Home

 

On the other hand, when it is cold outside, the sun can work to provide you with some heat so you can turn down your heat and still be comfortably. If there are windows that are bathed in shade, you want to close these windows and block them like you do in the summer. However, for the windows where sun is shining, open up your curtains and blinds to allow the sun to come in.

 

Check Unused Areas of Your Home

 

If you are not using your crawlspace and attic to live, you want to stop the heat and air conditioning from going into these areas. The key is to keep your heating and cooling exactly where it needs to be and nowhere else to keep your home comfortable while helping to reduce your overall HVAC costs.

 

Do Not Frequently Adjust Your Thermostat

 

Find a comfortable temperature and make sure that you stick with it. When you find a temperature that keeps your home comfortable, you want to keep this temperature. Let everyone who lives with you know not to adjust the thermostate. You will save money when you keep your thermostat at a constant temperature since it is costly to keep adjusting it.

 

Seal Your House Properly

 

Make sure that heat and air conditioning cannot escape your home. Seal your doors and windows and make sure that you have good insulation. This will help to keep your heat and air conditioning inside so that you can be comfortable at a lower temperature.

 

Clean and Repair Equipment

 

If your HVAC equipment is clean and in good shape, you will find that your system is more efficient. When your system is efficient, it is naturally less expensive to operate.

 

These tips to save on heating and air conditioning are something pretty much anyone can use. The key is evaluating your current usage habits and knowing where you can make some changes

Common Heating and Air Conditioning Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Heating and Air Conditioning

 

Got some questions about heating and air conditioning? Whether a user is looking to install ventilation systems in their commercial property, or they require a new heating system at home, there is a lot to learn about HVAC systems.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about heating and air conditioning.

 

What is HVAC?

 

HVAC is short for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, and it is used to refer to the wider industry. HVAC can also refer to duct repair work, air filters, and humidification controls. It is a term that refers to all forms of air filtration and temperature control, and an HVAC professional will be able to help with both commercial and residential properties.

 

Should I Expect Sound from HVAC Systems?

Some heating systems are completely silent, like radiant heaters. Others, however, will create sound. The sound created by heating, filtration, or air conditioning systems depends entirely on the unit that is chosen. The more expensive a unit, the less sound it is likely to create.

 

Age also plays a factor, as does the size of the system. A large commercial air conditioning system will create more noise, but this should be less noticeable given the size of the building it is housed in.

Why Might My AC System Stop Working?

 

There are three common reasons why an air conditioning unit may stop working.

 

  1. Defective blower motor

 

A blower motor that is running at the wrong speed (or not at all) can cause an AC system to freeze. The same is true if the user experiences a defective relay.

2. A dirty evaporator coil

 

Over many years, the evaporator coil will become dirty. The effect of a dirty coil is the same as a dirty filter, causing a gradual loss of airflow until eventually the AC system doesn’t work at all.

 

What is a Zoning System?

 

A Zoning System is used to separate the duct work in a property into different

comfort areas. This means that a user can control the temperature in one room while changing the temperature in another room.

 

Why Do I Need a Zoning System?

A Zoning System is ideal for any home that experiences drops or increases in temperature in the home. In an area that is typically colder than the rest of the home, a Zoning System makes it possible to more accurately change the temperature, so that the atmosphere is consistent throughout the building.

A Zoning System is particularly great to install at the beginning of the process of building a new property. Zoning Systems make it easier to tackle heating issues from day one.

Who Needs an Air Filter?

An air filter in a HVAC system can reduce the amount of pollen, bacteria, and pollutants that come into a home or office. This means a property has clean air for the user’s family or colleagues to breathe.

 

 

Typical Problems with Heating and Air Conditioning Systems

Most Common Problems with Heating and Air Conditioning Systems

Heating and air conditioning systems are typically very reliable. In fact, most HVAC systems will last a home for 10 to 20 years – as long as they are well-maintained. However, as with any household system, some problems could arise, which may require a replacement or professional repair.

Most of the time, a client will call their local HVAC repair service because they are not receiving hot or cold air. Sometimes, the system will not engage. Regardless, knowing the common issues is important so that a homeowner could prepare themselves for the repairs needed.

Blown Fuses

A fuse protects the unit’s compressor and motor from overheating. It is in the evaporator coil of the unit. The first thing a technician will check when the system is not operating properly is the fuse. This is a quick and easy fix but may indicate that there is a larger problem going on – especially if the fuse fails often.

Worn Contactor

An HVAC unit has three contactors. One is for the compressor unit, another works on the blower motor, and the last operates on the condenser. The contactors are what engage when there is a need to cool or heat the home from the HVAC. If there is an issue with the contactor, the unit may not work.

Refrigerant Leaks

Another common problem with heating and air conditioning systems are refrigerant leaks. “These can happen just from the vibrations of the unit while it is running, and the leak that hits the evaporator coils or condenser cannot be repaired. If the leak is found in another place, the technician may be able to recharge the system. However, a refrigerant leak often means that the unit has another problem and may require a more extensive repair.

Compressor Failure

The compressor is the heart of a home’s air conditioning unit. The compressor is there alongside the condenser coil. If there is an undercharge, the compressor runs hot and stops. Sometimes the compressor can be repaired, while other times the HVAC system will require an entirely new compressor.

Wiring Problems

Haphazard or poorly created wiring for an HVAC system can lead to a catastrophic failure. Worse, this type of workmanship could also cause a household fire. Unfortunately, when a homeowner does not use a certified professional, or they attempt to install their HVAC on their own, wiring issues tend to occur.

Frozen Coils

Frozen coils happen when the unit is not receiving adequate airflow. Sometimes this is as simple as changing out a dirty air filter or removing an obstruction from the ductwork. Other times, it is the result of refrigerant leaks.

Clogged Drain Lines

Dirt or algae buildup might force the drain line to clog. Once the drain line plugs, the drain pan fills and water leaks over, leading to water damage. Sometimes the water damage is minimal, while other times the water damage requires an HVAC replacement.

 

 

 

Small Pests? Big Problems: How to Protect Your HVAC System

Home and business owners know all too well how a small pest can lead to a nasty and pricey infestation. If your HVAC unit is old and loose, in a heavily vegetated area or near food or waste, it can leave your entire system and home susceptible to insects and other pests.

While larger pests such as raccoons and rats can compromise the integrity of your HVAC system, smaller pests like termites will wreak havoc on the entire foundation of your home. From pest control to replacing your entire HVAC unit, a small pest issue can turn into a massive expense.

Perhaps no expense is felt more severely than the health complications that a pest infestation can cause. Prevention is the best way to pest control your HVAC system and maintain your quality of life.

Effects of a pest-infested HVAC system

There is nothing pleasant about a pest infestation. Aside from a pest’s gross nature, any given pest can carry a host of serious diseases or allergens that can be a major detriment to your quality of life.

Quality of life
When mice or rats enter a home’s HVAC system, they utilize the system’s ducts to navigate throughout the household. Once in the ducts, the odor from dead pests and waste are pushed through the ventilation system. This is not only unpleasant, but can also spread dangerous allergens throughout the home. Those with respiratory concerns are at a higher risk for irritation or an asthmatic attack.

Occupants are at risk of general health concerns from the many diseases that pests may carry as well as any complications that may arise from any pesticide eradication efforts.

Unit and property damage
Larger pests can scratch and nibble right through both your HVAC unit and your wallet. Pests that have made a home in your ducts can cause irreparable damage through biting and urination, forcing home owners to replace entire components of their HVAC system.

Preventative pest proofing an HVAC unit
Pest prevention for HVAC units starts on the outside. Your condenser, exhaust, intake and flues are all exposed to your home’s surroundings. In order to protect these popular pest access points, it’s imperative to invest in the proper covers and diligently monitor the area around your condenser to ensure nothing is attracting pests.

HVAC pest prevention:

•    Seal your older, looser ducts
•    Cover your vents and flues
•    Eliminate any vegetation, food or waste around your condenser
•    Treat your exterior and your condenser with a pest repellant
If you find pests in your HVAC system, protect the integrity of your air quality by using traps instead of poison. Not only will poison compromise the quality of your air, but it also kills the pests inside the ducts, leaving them there to omit an awful odor and harmful dander.
For more HVAC advice or to replace a damaged HVAC system, contact an AirMaxx HVAC specialist. We pride ourselves on being the premier San Diego HVAC company and love to provide our loyal San Diego area customers with solutions to the simplest and most complex HVAC concerns.

Are Your Pets Causing Your Utility Bill to Skyrocket?

The Unexpected Costs of Pet Ownership

San Diego is pet friendly! We love that about our city! Surely, your pets are a part of the family. Fido & fluffy are a comfort for you, fun for your children and visitors to your home, and they’re the perfect welcoming committee at the end of a long day. However, your pets probably also have their own column in your budget every month. As their caregivers, we must feed and provide medical care for our animals and we’d be lying if we said we don’t spoil them with treats & toys! It’s all expected as part of caring for a pet. However, there may be a cost you didn’t expect to accrue.

costs of owning a pet

If you’re staring at your most recent utility bill from San Diego Gas & Electric is through the roof, it may not be your spouse who mistakenly leaves the hall light on all. the. time. or your kids who never stop charging their devices. It could be your HVAC system!

Is my PET really affecting my utility bill?

There are a lot of reasons your HVAC system could be hiking your utility bill. You may need to upgrade to a newer, more energy efficient furnace or the SEER rating for your air conditioning system might be less than ideal. However, it could also be the way you operate your machine OR how hard it’s working to push air through debris.

If you are a pet owner and you find that your utility bill is too high, try these fixes for your HVAC system:

  1. Set your HVAC system on a timer while everyone is gone.
    Do your pets stay home while everyone else is at work or school? If so, you may make efforts to accommodate them while you’re out – you leave on a television so they’re not as lonely, leave them a new treat, and keep your thermostat kicked to ‘comfortable’ all day long. They’re SO lucky to have you.However, if your HVAC system is laboring to heat or cool your home all day long while Rover slips in and out of the doggie door casually all day, you might be wasting home comfort resources. Instead, we recommend setting your thermostat on a timer so that periodicially throughout the day, your home is warmed or cooled to your usual standards but it isn’t kicking on all day, unnecessarily. Bonus: Your home will be sunny and 70 when you get home from a hard day!
  2. Brush your pets more often.
    The other BIG effect your pet has on your utility bill comes straight from the fur – you know, the stuff you pull off of your favorite pair of pants and sweep off the floor every. single. day? By brushing your dog or cat and disposing of the hair, you can stop all that extra fluff from circling the air and ending up coating your vents and gumming up your air filters. Not only does this require extra wear & tear on your system, it also requires more energy for your system to push air through all the fuzz, thus raising your bill!
  3. Change your air filters more often.
    In reference to the previous issue, homes with pets require more frequent replacement of filters to better combat the hair issue. Even with regular brushing, our furry friends still shed like crazy!
  4. Clean & monitor your outdoor heating and cooling unit.
    It’s less common, but more rough & rambunctious pets like to climb on and play with outdoor AC units and other backyard paraphernalia. To avoid damage, teach your pets to avoid the area, provide a barrier to the unit such as a low fence or trellis, and monitor the unit often to check for debris. This is a good practice for homeowners anyway as loathsome pests can infiltrate & damage your system.
  5. Have your HVAC system inspected.
    There are elements of your HVAC system that simply must be inspected and maintained by a professional. This is especially the case for homeowners with ductwork, but it’s true for even the simplest packaged unit. Your Airmaxx technician can inspect the entirety of your system and determine if there are any other energy efficiency solutions not being implemented yet.

For more tips on saving money, or to schedule your HVAC system inspection, contact Airmaxx n San Diego or El Cajon today!

Refrigerant Charging Basics

Maintaining your HVAC system is practical and necessary. Additionally, checking your own system helps you cultivate knowledge and communicate effectively with professionals should problems occur. However, most people aren’t as familiar as they should be with basic HVAC maintenance. In particular, refrigerant charging is a mystery to some homeowners.

Why Is Refrigerant Charging Needed?

The most technologically and structurally sound HVAC systems will need maintenance occasionally. If you notice your air conditioner is blowing warm air or the airflow is insufficient, it’s probably time to recharge. Extra refrigerant isn’t always necessary, but it can help cool your airflow again.

Using The Total Superheat Method

There are two ways to charge your HVAC: the total superheat method and the condenser subcooling method. The total superheat method is used for machines with fixed meter devices; the condenser method is used for machines with TXV.

Always charge your HVAC system in the correct temperature. For a successful charge, the temperature must be above 55 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors and 70 degrees Fahrenheit indoors. The indoor wet bulb temperature should be over 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Check the total superheat for current load conditions. If you have charged your system correctly, your total superheat will be within three degrees of target superheat for current load conditions.

Before charging, check that your HVAC system is clean. Thoroughly clean coils, filters, and all other parts. The tiniest speck of dust or other contaminate will negatively influence your airflow, air temperature, and many other factors. It may also disrupt your home’s air quality. If you can’t see all possible contaminants, consider using a video scope. These are particularly helpful when cleaning high or low parts of your system, or cleaning in small spaces.

Once the system is cleaned, set required airflow back to the manufacturers’ settings. Don’t attempt to charge a system using anything except original settings. The typical setting is about 400 CMF/ton, give or take 10%. When the airflow is correct, you can begin charging your HVAC system.

Identify your metering device, which will tell you how fast your refrigerant is changing from a liquid to a gas or vapor. The metering system’s measurements will help you determine how to charge the system and whether you need more refrigerant. Attach a high-quality digital gauge and temperature probes to your system to complete the charge. Add or remove refrigerant as desired, and allow about 15 minutes after refrigerant has been added or removed to determine final total superheat.

Using The Condenser Subcooling Method

The condenser subcooling method is meant for HVAC systems using a TXV metering device. Other than that, the biggest difference between this and the superheat method is the temperature under which a charge can be executed. The indoor wet bulb temperature should still be above 50 degrees, but it should be above 60 degrees outdoors and 70 degrees indoors. Note that in a TXV system, suction pressure will stay relatively constant. Also note that you shouldn’t continue to add refrigerant after optimum cooling is reached.

If you have any questions regarding refrigerant charging, such as what refrigerant to use or how to identify your metering device, contact us online or by phone. We’ll be happy to consult with you.

HVAC Solutions for Tiny Homes

How Do I Heat & Cool My Tiny Home?

Tiny Homes HVAC OptionsIf you have been paying attention in the greater San Diego area, you may have noticed the uptake of a global trend: tiny homes. We love the tiny house trend and we’re happy to see tiny homes in San Diego because they’re energy efficient & sustainable and because they challenge the status quo and that’s what we’re all about. In their efforts to maintain a lifestyle that is both energy conscious and affordable, many tiny home owners and builders will find themselves with questions:

How can I cool my tiny home?
Which HVAC system is best on such a small scale?
What is the HVAC load calculation for my tiny house?

 

HVAC for small spaces is completely different than a typical home or commercial location. However, fear not – maintaining your thermal comfort index in a tiny home is easy, affordable, and eco-friendly. Here are the major tiny home HVAC solutions you have to consider:

 

Passive Cooling / Passive Heating

 

Passive cooling and passive heating refer to ventilation which is not motivated or generated by an electrical fixture, with ductwork and other technologies. Passive heating or cooling would not require a thermostat or other active controls. Tiny home builders in California may prefer this avenue because they may not be required to make modifications to suit the system, or the modifications will be minimal. For the homeowner, these solutions are often less expensive but can also be less effective. Here are a few examples:

 

  • Windows
    In a tiny home, you’re not cooling a massive space and you can probably achieve a decent cross-breeze just by opening cross-home windows and letting freshness in. The trouble starts when the heat or humidity – especially here in the hot San Diego weather – end up inside your home with no recourse for removal. Also, this doesn’t work as well to heat the home later in the winter.
  • Ceiling Fans
    Ceiling fans can manage to cool or somewhat “heat” your tiny house. While they do not generate their own temperature air, they do effectively circulate cool air and generate a breeze. In the winter, you can turn your ceiling fan in the opposite direction and it will push warm air that has risen to the rafters of your home downward into your living space for an effect of warmth. The drawbacks to ceiling fans include that they are a threat to air quality if not cleaned well and often, they do not generate temperate air so you’re still working, essentially, with the temperature given in the home, and they can sometimes make a small room feel smaller.
  • Floor Fans/Window Fans
    If you are willing to part with the space in your tiny home, a floor fan will make you feel cooler by drawing a draft across your skin. Whether you insert one in a window to draw warm air out from your home or stand one in the room and let it oscillate you will find an increase in comfort. However, these fans struggle to warm up a room and in the warmest of conditions, will struggle to cool it to comfortable levels also.
  • Roof Vents/Attic Fans
    These are a little pricier than the options listed above because they do require a hole to be cut in your roof. One potential drawback to this is that if the unit is not sealed well, moisture leakage can become imminent. That said, these units can warm or cool your tiny home and will provide an increase in ventilation which will increase your comfort. If the weather is hot and heavy, however, this solution will feel uncomfortable.

 Air Conditioner Options for Tiny Houses

Active Cooling / Active Heating

Simply put, when we refer to active cooling or active heating, we are referring to air conditioning units. These will require some type of controls, either by thermostat or on the unit itself. While all of the following examples would require some installation for your tiny house, they are all effective. There are many active air conditioning systems that are highly energy efficient as well. Here are a few examples:

 

  • Window AC Unit
    Say what you will about the aesthetic of a window air conditioner, this solution will work for your tiny home. Of the active cooling solutions here, this is the most affordable and the easiest to install yourself. That said, if your tiny home only has 1-3 windows, as most do, it may feel foreboding to eliminate one by stuffing it with one of these bad boys.

All of the following active cooling systems will require an HVAC technician for installation and maintenance.

  • PTAC
    The term PTAC, which stands for Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner, may not sound familiar but if you’ve stayed in an economy hotel room, you’ve likely used one. This will take up precious wall space in your home but it will effectually heat and cool your space with ease and in 2016, these come in highly energy efficient AC models.
  • RV-Style Roof Unit
    This is another solution, commonly used in RVs, which will both cool your tiny home and heat your tiny home. It is installed into your roof so it takes up less living space. However, if your roof operates at a slant greater than 15 degrees, you will find that this unit shuts down easily. Flat-roof tiny homes will love this option.
  • Mini Split System
    A common mini-me to the traditional air conditioning system, the Mini Split is such that your home will have an interior ventilation unit and an outdoor cooling unit, similar to your large home counterparts. The difference is in the size alone as the Mini system will use a compact air conditioner. To calculate your tiny home’s BTU, follow the same BTU calculation instructions as with a larger home, subbing in your actual square footage and accounting for any outlying factors such as multiple occupants, the probable use of a kitchen, and accounting for sun vs. shade.
    Shop Compact AC Units

 

{Builders: Are you curious about how to design and engineer an HVAC system in a tiny home from scratch? We’re happy to partner with you, too!}

 

If you’re looking to cut down on your tiny home costs and still heat and cool your space with ease, no worries! There are many passive and active HVAC solutions available for your tiny house. For more information or to request an estimate on HVAC services for your tiny home in San Diego or the surrounding area, contact Airmaxx today! We’re happy to help.

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How to Set Your Thermostat When You Go on Vacation

Thermostat Vacation

Thermostat Settings to Know for Your Upcoming Vacation

Summer is here and as the temperatures rise vacation plans are being set. On this much needed break, the last thing you want to worry about is your energy bill. Time for some thermostat 101 – On the top of the list of summer thermostat questions is, “Where should I set my thermostat when on vacation?” The answer may not be quite as simple as you think.

Where to set your thermostat when away

Conventional knowledge would say that if you are away from your house, that you should just shut your system off to save money. This is not always the case. Experts now agree that the ideal temperature for your thermostat settings for summer vacations is 4 degrees above your average settings, to help save some money while preventing your home from getting too hot. When you leave your system on, it avoids the inevitable cooling process that can end up costing you more money than you saved by shutting the system off. A buildup of heat and humidity can also cause serious damage to wood and wall compounds over time. Keeping your air on will also be much more comfortable for your pets or friends or neighbors that may stop by to help deliver mail or check on your home while you are away.

Here are a few thermostat in summer situations in which it is advantageous to leave your thermostat off while on vacation:

  • Your trip is at least one week or longer in duration (the longer the trip the more likely you are to save money by shutting off your system).
  • The local weather is going to be mild such that it would not drastically raise the temperature of your home.
  • Your home’s temperature efficiency is high enough that your home’s flux in temperature would not require a massive cool down process.

How to program your Nest thermostat when not home

It is recommended to program your Nest auto-away settings to the same 4 degree difference. However, for longer trips, you will want to utilize the manual away settings instead of the auto-away settings. The manual away setting will ensure that your system will not kick on until you manually say so. This will prevent the system from starting if it detects a neighbor or friend that is just bringing in your mail and checking on your house.

Airmaxx has your thermostat temperature summer solution

Whether you are looking to stay cool or save money, it’s all about making the smartest decisions with your thermostat. Nothing is smarter than the CARRIER COR Smart Thermostats that are designed to keep your family comfortable and your bank account full. With full Wi-Fi capabilities, you can control this thermostat from any mobile device through a convenient app, and best of all, it has its own vacation mode settings for optimal savings while you are away. Airmaxx also carries many programmable thermostats to help stretch your dollar and maximize your summer fun!

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The Invisible Killer: Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide, also called CO, is referred to as “the invisible killer” because it is impossible to see or smell this poisonous gas if it infests your home. Undetected exposure can be harmful, or even fatal. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) lists CO poisoning as responsible for more than 400 “unintentional, non-fire related” deaths in the US each year.

CO is produced when a fossil fuel is burned. A number of household products can produce potentially deadly CO levels if they are improperly vented or incorrectly used, including furnaces, water heaters, stoves, fireplaces, portable generators and charcoal grills.

Signs and Symptoms of CO Poisoning

Even though you can’t see or smell CO in your home, you can still be alert for the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. In the initial stages, they feel like the flu, but the affected person will not experience a fever.

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

High levels of exposure to carbon monoxide result in a progression of symptoms. Members of an affected household may experience one or more of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Mental confusion
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Unconsciousness

Continued exposure to CO can be fatal if the occupants of the home are not rescued in time.

What To Do if You Suspect Co Poisoning

If you suspect that you or a family member is experiencing the effects of CO poisoning, the most important thing is to get to fresh air immediately. Leave the house right away. Call for help once you get outside or from a neighbor’s home. Do not try to call for help from inside your own home; you may lose consciousness or even die from the effects of CO poisoning if you stay in the house.

Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number and tell the operator you suspect CO poisoning. Request help from the Fire Department to determine when it is safe to go back inside your home.

What You Can Do to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

There are several steps you can take to lower the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning to you and your family.

  • Make sure that all appliances in your home are installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications and local codes.
  • The best way to ensure they are properly installed is to have a professional look after this important function.
  • Read the manual that comes with new appliances before operating them and follow these directions carefully. They will direct you in the safe way to operate way to operate your new appliance.
  • Do not operate portable generators indoors. Only plug them in well away from open doors and windows, which can allow CO to enter your home.
  • Be alert for issues that may indicate that your appliances are not working correctly, such as burning, strange odors, decreased hot water supply, a furnace that runs constantly or does not heat the entire house or increased moisture inside of windows.
  • Perform a visual inspection on your vents and chimney for any visible cracks, rust, strains or improper connections. If you see anything that is cause for concern, contact an HVAC service contractor.
  • Have your heating system, including your vents, inspected and serviced each year by a trained service technician.

AirMaxx is your award-winning HVAC contractor in the San Diego area. Call us today to schedule your annual inspection on your heating and cooling system or for service on any of your equipment.